Jussel: Stocking of coal: Chiefs will defeat Broncos again
I hate to be the Grinch, but the 8-6 Denver Broncos are in the process of trying to improve their draft position.
A couple of weeks ago, they would have been relegated to the 26th or 27th pick in the draft. Now, they are now on a crash course to move up significantly.
The Broncos have the 10-4 Chiefs tonight in Kansas City and the 11-3 Raiders to finish the regular season next Sunday. Those two teams are hunting home-field advantage and even the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
Kansas City, with two wins, could still gain the top AFC seed in the unlikely event New England, 12-2, loses its final two games, and Oakland loses once.
The Broncos, who need to win twice and get plenty of help to earn a wild-card berth, definitely won’t catch the Chiefs sleeping tonight at Arrowhead. Can they win on the Great Plains amidst the sea of red in what is forecast as wet and windy weather?
It’s possible. The Tennessee Titans won there last week on a last-second field goal do-over. And the Broncos do owe the Chiefs after Kansas City’s banked-in field goal in the last play of overtime gave the Chiefs a 30-27 win Nov. 27 in Denver.
But to beat the Chiefs, the Broncos can’t kick the ball to rookie Tyreek Hill — he had three TDs against Denver in the first meeting. And they have to contain him on reverses. He is the NFL’s fastest man at this point (4.25 40) and the Chiefs are finding more and more ways to get him the ball.
Let’s say Denver contains the rapid rookie.
Not enough. The Broncos must find a way to score.
Easier said than done, especially against one of the league’s top defensive units. If you believe the offense is suddenly going to kick everything into high gear 15 games into the season, I’ve got stocks in several coal companies I want to sell you.
I want to get this off my chest right now: Trevor Siemian, Denver’s young QB, is not and has not been the problem with Denver’s offense. Matter of fact, in the first game against the Chiefs, he threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns — a superb effort despite being harassed consistently and sacked five times.
While you’re at it, put this in your pipe and smoke it, legally, of course: Put Siemian behind the Dallas Cowboys offensive line and give him a running back like Zeke Elliott, and the football world would be talking about young up-and-comer Siemian as possible MVP instead of Cowboys rookie sensation Dak Prescott.
On the season, Siemian’s numbers show a more-than-respectable 3,012 yards despite missing all of two games and most of a third. He has 16 TD passes compared to eight interceptions and a passer rating of 88.1 — just short of Philip Rivers and Eli Manning and in front of the likes of Jameis Winston, Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco and Cam Newton.
The Broncos can win with Siemian, maybe even tonight if he puts up another 300-plus and three TD passes — and receivers quit dropping on-target passes in key situations, something that also has been dogging Denver.
But somebody, anybody in a Bronco uniform, has to block somebody with a red helmet on. I’m going to go all Aqib Talib on you and say, “Block somebody, Russell Okung! Block somebody, Donald Stephenson! Don’t let our young QB get killed!”
Therein lies Denver’s problem tonight.
All good Bronco fans know Talib is tough, his antics worth putting up with. We all know Von Miller is the baddest of the bad. And, yes, Chris Harris is the best cover corner in the universe. Unfortunately, three Pro Bowl players and a decent young QB do not a Super Bowl contender make.
When these two teams met last month, Denver was relatively healthy and the Chiefs were banged up. Roles are reversed this time.
The Broncos have had three players on concussion protocol during the week, safety T.J. Ward and tight ends Virgil Green and A.J. Derby — all three will miss tonight’s game. They also have inside linebacker Brandon Marshall nursing a bad hamstring and defensive end Derek Wolfe a neck injury.
Denver’s depth is being tested at a bad time, especially on defense.
The Broncos are also now featuring veteran Justin Forsett, now on his seventh NFL team, at the running back spot instead of rookie Devontae Booker. Forsett can’t run, but he can block — all the better for Siemian.
Rain, sleet, hail, snow and wind be damned; the Broncos know they can’t run it, so it’ll be hunker down and try to pass block.
Sorry, it’s just too late.
I’ll take my 9-5 record picking with or against Denver and say … Chiefs 21, Broncos 17.
And it’ll be time to talk possible draftees and Rockies relievers.